Talk:South African Border War

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Argentina minor ally[edit]

Why is Argentina listed as a minor ally? There's no reference to anything it did to support SADF/UNITA in the war. 67.171.69.236 (talk) 15:05, 11 April 2010 (UTC)

Agree - removed. Socrates2008 (Talk) 09:58, 12 April 2010 (UTC)

Add other countries qualifying as minor allies[edit]

If the USA is listed as a 'minor ally' because it provided weapons to UNITA, then Zaire should be included as a minor ally as well. In fact according to the UNITA entry, the following countries also provided support to UNITA: "UNITA received support from the governments of Bulgaria,[6] Egypt, France, Israel, Morocco, the People's Republic of China, North Korea (although North Korea later recognized the MPLA government), Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the United States, Zaire,[7] and Zambia.[8][9]" I suggest that either:

(a) those countries be added as minor allies (if supplying aid is sufficient to meet the 'minor ally' test, or (b) an explanation be clearly articulated as to why only the USA and Argentina qualify as 'minor allies'; or (c) the 'minor ally' section should just be removed. 67.171.69.236 (talk) 15:05, 11 April 2010 (UTC)

Soviets as a belligerent?[edit]

I know that the Soviets provided military support to the Cubans and MPLA government in this war, but does this rise to the level of being an active participant? Did USSR personnel accompany communist forces into battle, for example, or fly air missions (covert or otherwise)? If not, I suggest that the USSR should be removed from the belligerent list. On the other hand, if supplying weapons is sufficient to rise to the level of belligerency in this case, then other countries (such as the United States and Mobutu's Zaire) should probably be added to the list. I raise this point because there is no reference to active USSR participation in the conflict in the text of the article itself. Jkp1187 (talk) 14:01, 7 July 2008 (UTC)

Interesting question. Certainly, the Soviet Union's direct role was limited in many ways. However, there is documented evidence of Soviet advisors being deployed in combat leadership roles alongside FAPLA troops and there are reports of Soviet pilots manning the aircraft of at least one fighter squadron in the conflict, which in itself may be sufficient to warrant their inclusion as a belligerent. Yet it is true that they did not commit significant numbers of forces to the conflict, relying instead mostly on the funding and arming of their proxies. Nevertheless, I think their role was probably significant enough that the list should remain as it is now. — Impi (talk) 15:50, 7 July 2008 (UTC)
Sounds reasonable to me. Perhaps a mention of this report should be made in the article itself? Jkp1187 (talk) 19:33, 7 July 2008 (UTC)

East Germany?[edit]

Never heard about the DDR being involved with this case.

(User:TheWatcherREME)) —Preceding comment was added at 18:55, 7 July 2008 (UTC)

It's not mentioned anywhere in the text or in one if the subarticles. I'll remove it from the infobox. 80.218.211.204 (talk) 19:46, 22 July 2008 (UTC)

Objectivity[edit]

THIS PAGE IS NOT OBJECTIVE

For example, the following extract:


While many (mostly white male) South Africans served in the South African Defence Force during the war, hundreds of thousands of digruntled white youths refused to participate in what they saw as an illegitimate and illegal war (while some had no knowledge of Soviet 'expansionist' policies on the sub-continent; the racial exclusive polices of PW Botha were drummed into them night, after night.) Groups such as the End Conscription Campaign and Committee on South African War Resistance actively campaigned against the conflict, were later banned while the then-banned ANC called for combatants on the South African side to desert.


This is utter bullshit.

"hundreds of thousands of digruntled white" Could the author give a reference for this statement. To my knowledge, the number of south african conscripts was between 300 and 500 thousand. Did more than a third of the people that were conscripted refuse??

The End Conscription Campaign and its resistance to apartheid and the call-up is an extremely well-documented part of South African history and has received considerable coverage in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report as well as a variety of publications. Would you like the telephone number of MEC Cameron Dugmore who will be able to help you get a sense of reality?

"the racial exclusive polices of PW Botha were drummed into them night, after night" Oh. In Apartheid South Africa there was freedom of the press, even though it was monitored. Did PW Botha phone every white youth to tell him his racial policies?. Did he force youths to watch television. What about the people who didn't have television?


The truth is a number of publications, including editions of the Mail and Guardian, were banned outright. Organisations such as the ECC and Congress of South African War Resisters]] were banned and driven underground. Not only were publications and organisations banned, but many activists were detained without trial, placed under house arrest, confined to barracks or simply disappeared.

Ethnopunk 13:21, 21 June 2006 (UTC)

"Groups such as the End Conscription Campaign and Committee on South African War Resistance" You can create a lot of peace-groups by giving names to any 10 hippies that smoke pot. This is the FIRST time I heard of these groups. How many members did these groups have? What was the influence of these groups? Did they really have any influence?

Yes they had an enormous influence over the youth, in addition to underground parties and cultural events, the End Conscription Campaign was aided by Voelvry, the so-called Alternative Afrikaner movement and other movements within the country. During the last stages of Apartheid, hundreds of thousands of conscripts failed to report for duty and the SADF was faced with a virtual collapse of its intake.

Ethnopunk 13:21, 21 June 2006 (UTC)

This extract has a problem with the apartheid governments propaganda, but it turns out that this is a worse piece of propaganda.

It would seem that you are the one to have fallen for the propoganda.

The ECC had a great influence. Thanks to the apartheid government's banning and general control of the media, not all South Africans may have been exposed to its efforts. However, hundreds of thousands of white people certainly did not refuse to participate because they saw the war as illegal. A small but significant number were brave enough to face the wrath of the apartheid government, and did so because of their principles - the 15 who refused in 1987 were probably instrumental in getting the ECC banned. Many more studied, and left the country in order to avoid conscription. As apartheid unravelled, and it became clear conscription would no longer be continuing, a much larger number simply didn't turn up. The 'hundreds of thousands' quote needs to be removed, and the general tone made more NPOV, no matter how correct the sentiments are. Also, the opposition topic should be expanded to include international opposition. Greenman 22:30, 22 June 2006 (UTC)
While I accept that it is practically impossible to document each and every instance of desertion, and that a lot of conscripts simply didn't turn up, how pray tell, are we going to arrive at a consensus figure that doesn't denigrate the enormous effort made by the ECC whilst banned. Surely even the ECC can see the problem of taking an ideological stance on this issue?
We don't need to. NPOV implies giving fair representation to all views, not trying to water down everything into a consensus view, or do new research. If there's an ECC source quoting hundreds of thousands, fine, let's quote that. If there's a SADF source quoting no impact at all, let's quote that too. The reader should be able to make up their mind as to the reliability of the various sources. Even if there's a consensus historical number that's much lower, whatever it is, I don't think that denigrates the impact of the ECC at all. Greenman 09:39, 26 June 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for pointing that out. Let's do that, include both views. I'm sure there's probably a scientific study that needs to be done, but for the mean while, I'm sticking with hundreds of thousands.Ethnopunk 13:28, 26 June 2006 (UTC)
"Hundreds of thousands" sounds extremely high though, and I've certainly never seen any credible claims anywhere close to that level. Indeed, considering that there were only a few hundred thousand men of military age available for conscription at the time, and that the SADF evidently had satisfactory call-up percentages, it would appear that the claim is impossible. This doesn't take anything away from the ECC, which was considered enough of a threat to be banned, but it would seem that a combination of societal disapproval and the risk of hefty penalties for non-compliance (plus the need to go into exile) prevented larger numbers from deserting or dodging the draft. — Impi 17:20, 27 June 2006 (UTC)
You are right the number of ppl who refused to do conscription (and went to jail) was very low (I would estimate less than 100 maybe, though this is pure speculation). Only after 1990 did people refuse to answer call-ups on a large scale (I was one of them), but by then the SADF didn't care anyway. I don't think a figure should be quoted. The ECC was a very active and high profile organisation though. I had first heard of them in school and they were quite active on Wits campus when I was there (late 80's).--My name is joe 17:06, 28 June 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps one has to distinguish btw three periods and categories. Those who objected prior to 1990. Those who objected after 1990 but before the morotorium in 1993/1994.Those who deserted or went AWOL before 1990, those who deserted or went AWOL after 1990 but before the morotorium 1993/1994; and those who are still technically AWOL despite the morotorium. Let's not forget that the ECC wasn't the only organisation banned or against the SADF. There was also the Committee on South African War Resistance. Also, the distinction between internal exile and exile abroad is meaningless. The fact remains that hundreds, if not thousands of draft-dodgers, war-resisters and objectors to war, caused the SADF to literally grind to a halt that the armed forces would never have lasted unless CODESA had brokered a peace settlement.Ethnopunk 13:38, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
This article is about the Border War, a conflict which existed until early 1989. CODESA is completely irrelevant, as are desertions after early 1989, and they have no place in this article. The fact remains that there were never sufficient desertions during the Border War period to noticeably hamper the SADF's performance, let alone cause it to "grind to a halt". Unless you can prove the outlandish claim that "hundreds of thousands" of white South Africans refused the call-up and deserted it should be left out. — Impi 16:30, 8 July 2006 (UTC)
I've just has a look at an Argus from September 1989, and there is an article that mentions 700 conscientious objectors during that month alone. I'll upload the ref, as soon as I get the printout from the national library. Ethnopunk 13:45, 30 June

2006 (UTC)

In your article, the South African Defense Force entered Angola in 1965, 1966 and 1967 and returned in 1975. Can you explain this gap???

British Comandos in Angola[edit]

I know for a fact that they were driven out by a small force of British Commandos, this happened in 1971. Why is it that nothing is mentioned about the British commandos exploits in confronting the South African Defense Force (SADF) in Angola and against the enormous odds that they prevailed against???? I met these Commandos, they were black and spoke the queen's english and said that they were Angolans. I have search for articles about them but have been unsuccessful. Does anyone now anything about them???

The forces deployed before 1975 were in a defensive capability in then-South-West Africa, aside from small advisory groups in Angola. That's because the Portuguese government still had its forces deployed in Angola at the time. Operation Savannah in 1975 was the first SADF incursion into Angola and occurred only because the Portuguese had withdrawn completely after a coup in Lisbon. So it's extremely unlikely that there was any SADF incursion into Angola in 1971, that British Commandos were involved or that there was a battle at all. I'm sorry, but I think you were fleeced. Darren (talk) 20:46, 20 September 2012 (UTC)
I was repeatedly in Angola, for lenghthy stays, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and am on solid ground when entirely agreeing with Impi. -- Aflis (talk) 21:47, 20 September 2012 (UTC)

Accuracy:[edit]

A major incursion by South Africa into Angola occurred during Operation Savannah, when South African forces advanced 3,159 km in 33 days to within artillery range of the Angolan capital of Luanda.

It would be extremely difficult to drive 3000 kilometers in Angola without driving around in circles. Unless Moses was the commander, I don't think the advance was 3000 km. Angola's shoreline is 1600 kilometers long. Luanda is 2/3's away from the lowest point of the border between angola and namibia/south west africa. I think that the moron who wrote this article can't use Control-C and Control-V correctly.

About the 3159km in 33 days. The advance wasn't along a straight line. I will soon put up a map that shows the advance. ~franco~

THIS PART IS 100% FACT, MY BROTHER, A G5 GUNNER, WAS THERE!!! The only moron here is the pipsqueek, namely you!

What an edifying picture: unidentified contributors insulting each other!!! -- As to the disputed fact: during the decolonization conflict in Angola, May 1974 to November 1975, a SADF colummn drove on a non-linear route from the Namibian border to a place about 100km from Luanda: there are dozens of sources to establish that. At that stage, Cuban troops were already present in the Luanda region, and had helped to stop the military forces of the FNLA which had entered Angola from the north. Combined Angolan (MPLA) and Cuban forces then "turned around", stopped the South African column, and drove it back. In this, a pivotal role was played by a numer of young Portuguese military officers who joined the Angolan forces. -- Aflis (talk) 22:05, 20 September 2012 (UTC)

Casualty figures[edit]

It would be great if there were some casualty figures shown, though this will be disputed so perhaps we can discuss here first. The only figures I found on the web were from here which gives SADF total killed as 715 and Angolan estimated killed (not sure if this includes UNITA and/or Cuban deaths) as 11000.

Though not sure if this figure is 1000 or 11000. It could mean 1000 Unita deaths?

Also the article linked to above does not seem completely objective but I would say that the figures for SADF losses is about right - no figures for injured.--My name is joe 17:18, 28 June 2006 (UTC)


joe, Take a look at my website [1] for deaths. I got those SADF figures directly from the SANDF and captured them into a database. I am pretty sure that the figure for "Angolan" deaths is 11000 although I don't have a citation to hand.

BoonDock 15:26, 17 February 2007 (UTC)


Not sure[edit]

..the Mirage F1 and Atlas Impala which had air superiority throughout.. I am not sure this is correct. I am sure the Mig23s flown by the cubans had air superiority over most of Angola. The SAAF jets had a range problem and could only fly short precise missions into Angola. The SAM network was also very intense. I know that the SADF even captured the first SAM-8s ever seen in the west. The SAAF even tested jamming on captured radar to help. --Jcw69 13:12, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

..South African Air Force air-to-air engagements were also protracted, as tactics tended to resemble those of Israel - destruction of aircraft on the airfield, in the manner of the prosecution of the Six Day War in 1967.. I don't think this is also true. I don't recall the SAAF attacking airfields lined up with enermy aircraft. This would have been an great photo opportunity. --Jcw69 13:23, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

Comparable to Vietnam War?[edit]

This sentence seems wrong:

"During that period the SADF called up more than 25,000 white male conscripts each year (for a two year tour), totalling just over half a million men, comparable to the number of conscripts used by the United States in the Vietnam War."

There were half a million US troops in Vietnam at the same time, as opposed to half a million South African troops in the field over the course of a 23-year war - they are not comparable at all.

--72.85.11.184 06:54, 1 September 2006 (UTC)

I second your sentiments, they two can not even remotely be compared. It's a common sensationalist media (or sometimes propaganda) statement to describe any war as "so and so's vietnam". In this case it would indeed be factually incorrect, I seem to recall that there were only about 5,000 to 10,000 South African in the operational area at any given time. -- Deon Steyn 07:34, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
Nevertheless it was "South Africa's Vietnam". Not only is this statement common knowledge, but the conflict occurred during the same period, involving similiar motivations around the Cold War etc. Then there's the fact that the apartheid regime lied about the invasion of Angola and the news story was broken by the international media before finally questions were asked in parliament.Ethnopunk 09:56, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
I dunno, the Vietnam comparison always seemed to me to be quite perjorative, an attempt to conflate this war with the one that everybody seems to hate (and an appeal to common knowledge is a logical fallacy). It's like the Iraq War: You can't have a tough battle or a soldier die without somebody dredging out the old Vietnam canard. It seems to be a weird obsession on the part of most people to define every modern war in relation to either WWII or Vietnam, when in reality such wars would be better understood (and fought) if we treated them as the unique actions they are.
Yes, the Border War was one of the Cold War's proxy conflicts, but then so were at least a dozen others. If anything, the Border War was closer in both its strategic situation and objectives to Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon than it was to Vietnam. The SADF's objective from the outset was two-fold: The creation of a buffer zone in southern Angola to prevent the Cuban and Angolan armies from operating there and SWAPO from infiltrating easily, and counter-insurgency operations to prevent SWAPO from starting an armed revolution within South-West Africa. Arguably, it succeeded; by the time elections were allowed in SWA and SWAPO had been elected the USSR had fallen and the Cuban presence in Angola was no longer sustainable. Thus the feared threat, of Cuban divisions based in Namibia and therefore easily able to launch an assault into S.Africa, was never allowed to materialise. It was a long way from being S.Africa's Vietnam. — Impi 10:25, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
I seem to recall some anti South-African propaganda/sentiment of the time (remember it stretched until the late 80's) comparing it to Vietnam, but factually this paragraph should be corrected as it stands here. -- Deon Steyn 13:57, 1 September 2006 (UTC)

I feel that this whole article should be rewriten, especially the Analysis of the war section. It feels very one sided and not objective at all. In case I'm stepping on any toes, I appologise before I say these next words .... A SADF Intelligence 2 pip could never have writen a better article.--Jcw69 17:37, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

There seemed to be consensus on this, so I dropped the comparison.

ManicParroT 00:32, 8 December 2006 (UTC)

Analysis of the war[edit]

I don't know who put the section in there originally (edited it at one stage), but I do believe that it was based on one of the references given, i.e. "Commandant Dick Lord, public lecture, University of Stellenbosch, 14th December 2001". That is probably not a very neutral source to begin with, and can probably not be cited as a source in good conscience unless it was published somewhere.

I must confess that I have always had an uncomfortable feeling about the section as a whole (is it even Wikipedia's job to analyse things?), so I am going to be bold and just erase the whole thing. If somebody objects, please discuss it here, but please put a more objective section in its place.

Happy New Year!

Elf-friend 10:09, 5 January 2007 (UTC)

  • I have reverted you. You can't cut out such a huge chunk without YOU first discussing why you don't like it in DETAIL here first. Do you have something better and more informative to offer? Why are you jumping to conclusions? Would you prefer a Communist version of the truth? IZAK 11:39, 5 January 2007 (UTC)
    • Wow ... that comes across as a bit aggressive, especially those words in capital letters. Well, I did write the original article, which I would consider to be informative and hopefully quite neutral. I could list points that I have my doubts about ... starting with the ones that somebody slapped "citation needed" tags onto. But my main doubt is whether we should have an "analysis" section in this (or any other) article at all ... in my mind that veers away from verifiable facts and goes into the opinion territory. I welcome the debate and don't mind you reverting me, but be nice and assume good faith. Elf-friend 12:00, 5 January 2007 (UTC)

Result?[edit]

Surely it is misleading to say that the result of the war was the decline of the apartheid government? I would say that this decline happened *despite* the war which was very sucessful in military terms. 80.47.108.121 23:39, 5 February 2007 (UTC)

Not only misleading, but inaccurate. Some (including the U.S., most Western governments and the South African government of the time) would argue that the result was the halt to Soviet/Communist expansion in Southern Africa. --Deon Steyn 06:25, 6 February 2007 (UTC)
Yes, surely the causes of the decline of apartheid included the economic stagnation SA had entered, partly because of the restrictions of apartheid. While SA had experienced an economic miracle in the 1960s, by the 80s it was stagnating. Similarly while the "West" was prepared to tolerate or even encourage the SA government during the Cold War, it was clear that it would be superfluous to requirements in the post-Cold War world. These reasons and others I feel are what caused the decline of the apartheid government. It was certainly not any military reasons. After all, its opponents only ever managed fairly smallscale guerrilla operations in the stategically unimportant far north of SWA/Namibia and irregular actions like sabotage and bombings in SA itself.

The spanish view[edit]

Sorry for my horrible english.

I wrote es:Guerra de la Frontera and the spanish and hispanish people have the cuban's point of view; because Cuba is a near country for us (many people visit Cuba every year). But we don`t have the South African's point of view, I think so; then many of us don´t undestand a question:

How is possible than a democracy like South Africa could to keep a war during 20 years or more?

The Cuban Regiment say that all of their Angola veterans were volunters; but only when you visit Cuba you hear than the Castro Regiment punished people who didn't spet ahead (my english is very poor, sorry). The mostly of cuban people didn`t know where was Angola, like say Frank Delgado in Veterano [2]. But Cuba could to keep a war for 20 years because it isn't a democracy, But SA?

Thanks for your help

es:Usuario:Zósimo

P.D.

Frank Delgado say:

  • y sin que mediaran muchas explicaciones
  • confusos y con la ropa de camuflaje
  • un día subimos a los aviones

I'm going to try to traslation:

  • And with no manay esplanations
  • to confuse and with the camuflage uniform
  • we went in to planes
Several factors, the historic period was the Cold war and western aligned countries everywhere feared Communist (Soviet and Chinese) expansion. More specific to the region, former colonial powers were being replaced by Communist backed forces: Rhodesian Bush War (Zimbabwe), Mozambican War of Independence and Angolan War of Independence. South African was the next target of such violent revolution and not only did the white population fear this violence (white farmers in Namibia had already been killed in attacks), but they no longer had any connection to a European country so they had nowhere to go; unlike the small Portuguese populations in Mozambique or Angola they could not leave for another country so they had to defence South Africa. South Africa used military conscription so there was no choice for soldiers, but it was not difficult to motivate many soldiers, because to protect South Africa, they had to protect Namibia and to protect Namibia they had to prevent SWAPO from operation out of southern Angola. The South African government also controlled the media very well so there was no media or public opposition. --Deon Steyn 06:33, 20 April 2007 (UTC)
South Africa under apartheid wasn't really a democracy, because there was no real opposition: before the Reform Party was founded in 1975, there were no parties that opposed the National Party - the United Party was officially an opposition party, but supported the National Party in everything. In essence, South Africa was a one-party state, because the National Party governed by itself for the entire span of the apartheid. People (white people) were allowed to vote for the only parliament with real power, but before 1975 (and after that only in a fragmented way) there was nothing to choose between, only N.P. policy. 82.176.204.198 (talk) 14:35, 12 May 2012 (UTC)

Pictures[edit]

This article could use a few other than maps...

Fair use rationale for Image:Ao-unita.gif[edit]

Nuvola apps important.svg

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BetacommandBot (talk) 06:42, 1 January 2008 (UTC)

Language[edit]

The article includes the following sentence: South Africa willfully withdrew from Angola. Did they withdraw willfully or willingly?

Zambia[edit]

I see that Zambia is listed as a combatant in the conflict. I'm curious as to how they were involved beyond providing sanctuary to SWAPO and ANC militants. Pjones (talk) 16:01, 21 November 2008 (UTC)

Cuba was involved before Portugal left Angola[edit]

Here's another inaccuracy:

Just when the Angolan war for independence was over, the Angolan Civil War started. After the leftist MPLA had gained control of most of the country South Africa intervened in support of the UNITA. This prompted Cuba to step in, help the MPLA to hold on to the capital and declare independence.

Sorry, but Cuban involvement with the MPLA pre-dates Angola's "Civil War." ----DanTD (talk) 15:08, 13 February 2010 (UTC)

Don't be sorry, help find a source :) Greenman (talk) 17:13, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
One place to start is the article on the MPLA itself(see above). Another are the OSPAAAL "Solidarity" posters(Angola, 1969, Angola 1973). The book Posters of protest and revolution, by Maurice Rickards also has some. Anytime Cuba has some propaganda poster claiming to have "solidarity" with the people of one nation, or one region, or whatever, it's tends to be a boasting of some communist war that they support. ----DanTD (talk) 20:48, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
You're going to have to find a slightly more reliable source than an assumption about a poster. The MPLA article is also a little light on specifics. Greenman (talk) 00:18, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
Perhaps some of the sources in this article might help. ----DanTD (talk) 04:01, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
There's also this. ----DanTD (talk) 04:20, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
all you have to do is read the article Cuba in Angola. Sundar1 (talk) 06:12, 9 July 2010 (UTC)

Support by East Germany and Yugoslavia[edit]

What are the sources???? -- Aflis (talk) 23:17, 9 July 2012 (UTC)

WIKIPEDIA IS OPINION RATHER THAN FACTS![edit]

THE SADNESS IS WIKIPEDIA ACROSS THE BOARD IS 99% OPINIONATED ARTICLES AND 1% TRUE PROVEN FACTS!!! and the danger is; people believe what they read on Wikipedia like it is the words of God himself. There seriously needs to be some sort of ombudsman overseeing such websites and holding the owners responsible. After all, what is the difference between material here and things such as Pirate bay etc................... — Preceding unsigned comment added by 203.82.81.152 (talk) 14:45, 20 September 2012 (UTC)

Documentaries on the war[edit]

I found "The Last Domino" or footage from it: http://archive.org/details/TheLastDominofullMovie Should we include that in the article? --197.228.14.45 (talk) 13:10, 4 July 2013 (UTC)